While individual cases may vary, the statistics don’t lie: NFPs in Australia are, in general, making more money than they need. With an average surplus of more than $1 million each year, the largest 5% of charities are receiving 80% of the entire non-profit sector’s $122 billion annual income.

With 86% of non-profits expressing a need for more volunteers and the rate of volunteering amongst younger generations at historically low levels, there is a distinct opportunity for non-profit organisations to create more value out of volunteers by (a) aligning the experience with what millennials want and (b) using skilled volunteers to provide services that a non-profit would traditionally have to pay for such as marketing, financial, or legal services. If skilled volunteers can be unlocked, then a non-profit can begin to allocate the money reserved for the now pro-bono services and instead use that money towards delivering their program or conducting further research

Unlike numerous for-profit businesses, almost all non-profits have a very clear reason for existing. Whether it’s research to find a cure or programs to offer support, guidance, and/or rehabilitation, a non-profit never lacks for purpose. As such, the allocation of resources should be a fairly simple task:

  1. Allocate as many funds as required to delivering program/supporting research.
  2. Leftover funds can be used to support ancillary programs or support services.

volunteer value graphicUnfortunately, however, some non-profits pursue funds for the purpose of fulfilling priority #2 in the hopes that a solid marketing strategy, financial plan, or any other professional service will mean that they can raise more funds and deliver a more effective program in the future.

Commercially, this doesn’t make sense. Continuing to build a business that doesn’t focus on delivering its core purpose is a trap, and non-profits often fall into the “raise funds to help our organisation” over “raise funds to help our cause” trap far too often.

Why not, then, take the money out of the equation when it comes to building a non-profit organisation? There are hundreds of thousands of professionals in Australia and around the world who are willing to donate their time to causes that they care about but simply don’t have the opportunity.

At Vollie, we’ve had volunteers donate an average of $800 in value per project at an average project commitment of 22 hours. The implication is this: skilled volunteering services like Vollie provide more valuable resources more quickly and more efficiently than many fundraising programs.

Matthew Boyd is the Founder and Managing Director of Vollie, an online marketplace that connects skilled people to non-profits, charities and social enterprises for skills-based online volunteering.